Loving and Leaving Jane
Anne Petrimoulx

This reminds me of Clara at the hospital.

In high school, I started volunteering at the hospital in the continuous care ward on weekends — changing water and delivering lunches.

After the lunches were delivered, I’d feed Clara. Nurses were in a hurry and weren’t able to spend a leisurely hour on one patient’s lunch. They tended to mix all the pureed foods together, which bothered me as it’s really no more efficient and residents hated it.

Clara was a sweet elderly patient (except when she was on morphine, when she’d scare her roommate horribly!) with Alzheimer’s who probably pretended to remember me each week — though she occasionally mistook me for a girl — I had long hair, it was confusing.

At the end of each visit, she’d ask me to come back next week, and I’d say I would. This went on for about 4 years until she passed away. And then I kind of ghosted on the volunteer gig, using the fact that I was starting university as an excuse to say goodbye. I still feel kind of bad because there were others who would’ve enjoyed help but I didn’t want to be that committed again. And that’s not even logical, because they would’ve benefited from occasional help anyway.

Jane sounds awesome and it’s important to recognize that she enjoyed your help for the time you were able to spend with her. That’s really all anyone can ask.

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